Monday, June 14, 2010
Are you ready?
The sound of children playing in the playground, arguing, shouting, laughing, tells us that they are all having a good time chasing each other, climbing and hiding. All of a sudden all sound stops. Then, a loud scream shutters the silence. It takes five minutes before an adult reaches the scene to find a circle of children standing over a child lying on the ground, apparently unconscious. The children seem unsure what to do. Some are poking the child on the ground hoping for some response. There is none. Others are calling their parents on their cells. Someone suggests calling 911.
Accidents happen. They are unavoidable part of life, and its folly to believe otherwise. So while we try to keep our children safe and teach them how to avoid danger, it’s also our responsibility to prepare them for times when things do go wrong. Because it has been shown many times that a capable young child can save other’s life. Often, first-aid and emergency training is the difference between saving life and death.
However, first-aid training for children is uncommon in America, where parents and authorities alike behave as if it’s better to protect the fragility of children and spare them the mental inconvenience of facing unpleasant reality, than to rely on their resilience and prepare them for emergency situations. This attitude of ‘if we don’t think about it, it won’t happen to us’ is nothing but negligence.
In many countries, minimal-cost first-aid and other emergency courses are available to all by the public emergency services. Children are especially encouraged to take these courses.
I can vividly remember the half day courses my friends and I used to take every other year to refresh the ABCD of first aid (Airways, Breathing, Circulation, Danger). Extracting the life-sized manikin on which we practiced mouth-to-mouth resuscitation would bring embarrassed giggles; pressing the pressure point in the groin to stop severe bleeding from the lower limbs was always accompanied by pre-pubescent jokes.
But the material we repeatedly practice in these courses as children became inseparable part of who we are. Only recently a childhood friend who attended these courses, found himself involved in an accident. The dormant, nearly forgotten first-aid skills he’d practiced so many years ago emerged when he needed them most, and he managed to keep an injured person alive until the ambulance arrived, and the medics took over.
Children today, just like when we were young, will find themselves in dangerous situations. This we cannot avoid. So instead of pretending that emergencies don’t happen, let’s prepare them. Because the more emergency-aware children there are, the safer we and our children will be.